Starting your Year Abroad

You have completed all your paper work and next thing you know you are standing outside your new accommodation in Spain with 2 suitcases a guitar and a whole lot of apprehension. Even though you are “prepared” with the correct paper work etc. nothing can prepare you for the feeling you get when you are not fluent in a language, turn up to your accommodation and they speak to you in the fastest and thickest Spanish possible telling you important information. It was very overwhelming for more than one reason. Piece of advice number 1: Know when your classes at your host university actually start. Why is this important? I had thought my classes started a week after I arrived giving myself a hot sec to adjust and get myself accustomed in a whole new country. However, they started the day after I arrived and this was such an overwhelming experience. I had just arrived back from 3 and a half months in the states and gave myself 3 days turn-around from the states to Spain. Piece of advice number 2: Give yourself time beforehand so as to not be rushed and stressed. I had not given myself the time to stop for a second and remember I was moving to Spain for a year. The first week is hard. There is no use in lying or sugar coating it. I obviously cannot speak for every host institution partnered with Edinburgh or any other country for that matter but what I can say is that If you are a not native speaker of a language and you go from conversational level to having to attempt to understand collegiate level, it will be a shock. Piece of advice number 3: Don’t isolate yourself, instead try to find other students who are in the same position or some native students in classes that are able to help you. I didn’t do this well for the first semester as I was terrified to talk to 3rdyear and 4thyear students in classes who all knew each other and were friends. These are the initial things which struck me and they wouldn’t have been so overwhelming perhaps if I had actually prepared myself in ways other than just with paperwork, gave myself a bit of time, and put myself further out f my comfort zone and spoke to more people from the outset. However, these things are easier said than done and you are already so far out of your comfort zone but the experience definitely is a learning one and I am so grateful to have experienced the initial discomfort as it is making the whole Erasmus experience now a lot more enjoyable and enriching!

Categories: ERASMUS, Europe, Spain

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